Flavours of Malaysia Festival & Master Class with Wanitha

29 Sep
September 29, 2011

I love Malaysian food.  I mean, what is there not to love?  Simple, honest food with spice.  Lucky for us Sydneysiders there are quite a few Malaysian foodie events happening over the next couple of weeks.

The Grace Hotel in Sydney is currently holding a Flavours of Malaysia Festival where award winning Malaysian chefs have been flown in to share the exotic flavours of Malaysia.  An amazing buffet of Malaysian delights awaits those wishing to head to the Grace for lunch or dinner.  They are also holding Malaysian Cooking  Master Classes with Wanitha Tanasigam.  It is this reason Josh and I find ourselves at the Grace on a rainy old Sunday in Sydney.  Read more →


R U OK? Some days I am & some days I’m not

15 Sep
September 15, 2011

When I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be writing this post, actually I am a little apprehensive about it.  Talk about bearing one of your inner most darkest secrets.

If you weren’t aware today is R U OK day.   A great concept, it starts conversation about depression.  Social media has been overrun today with people shouting out R U OK?  It is raising awareness and people are talking about depression.  This is fantastic in my eyes as 15 years ago nobody talked about it.  It was taboo, shoved under the carpet and most definitely not understood by the majority.

Depression has been a very close friend of mine, from about the age of 13.  So you could say we have been best buddies for about 30 years now.  I think most people that have a close and personal relationship with depression will agree with me, only those that have been there truly understand what you go through on a daily basis.  Yes those closest to you, that are passengers on your journey can relate, but they never truly understand.

So for me there is one little flaw in R U OK day.  If you were to turn around right now and ask a person who suffers depression if they were okay, I can guarantee you the response will most probably be “I’m fine”.

This morning I noticed a few shout outs on Facebook, letting friends know that if they weren’t okay to give them a ring etc.  Sorry to say this guys, but it doesn’t work like that, somebody that may be having a dark day is not going to give you a call and have a chat about it.  For most it isn’t that easy to talk about, you have to be in the right frame of mind to do so.  So when that friend is ready to talk, please be there to listen.

I know myself it took me many years to seek help.  My push to go and do something about my depression 16 years ago was my beautiful then three year old son.  He needed his mother around, alive and functional, Josh was my trigger for seeking help.  I sought help, my family and Macs’ family supported me 100% and were there for me in any capacity that could help me.  When I reached out to friends it was a bit of a different situation and I didn’t find the support I needed there.

From that experience until now I don’t talk about my depression with people outside of my family.  Actually I don’t really talk about it, I just deal with it on a day to day basis.  Even when I am having a terrible week I rarely reach out to Mac or my closest confident Ms Lily and say, “I am having a bad week”, I should.  I think the reason for this is I want to pretend I am fine, give the image I am a confident strong business woman/mother/friend.

I know that most of you that know me personally would have had no idea of my depression.  Well, I have put it out there now and basically the world knows.  I thought today was a good day to share with you guys.  Most of you know me as bright and bubbly with a smile on my face, you wouldn’t have had a clue.  I think this alone is a very important point,  you never know who is a sufferer.

I haven’t really gone in to how depression affects me, I didn’t want to go in to too much detail.  To be honest this has been interesting to write, a little hard, a little emotional, but I wanted to share that depression is more common than thought and it affects all sorts of people from all walks of life.

My advice, parents, know your children, talk to them, spend quality time with them even if they want to retreat to their bedrooms, watch for any signs.  They will most probably not come forward, they probably don’t even understand what they are feeling themselves.  For partners and friends, arm yourself with information, take the time to talk, understand, support and basically just be there.

For more information on R U OK day and to make a donation www.ruokday.com.au

Another fantastic annual awareness event is the Black Dog Ride www.blackdogride.com.au or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/BlackDogRide

If you need help or want more information about depression Beyond Blue is a long running supportive organisation www.beyondblue.org.au

Promise next post we will be back to the subject of food.

Sara xxx






High tea with Stephen Twining a new Aussie blend

13 Sep
September 13, 2011

Exciting news, Australia finally has its own tea blend, Australian Afternoon Tea,  thanks to Twinings.

Earlier this year Twinings set a challenge for 40 Australian celebrities to create their own perfect Australian Afternoon Tea blend.  Blending packs were sent out and our Aussie celebrities blended away.  The final results were sent over to London for assessment by a Twinings expert panel.

The top five celebrity blenders were; Radio Broadcaster Alan Jones, TV Personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley and her husband John, Singer John Williamson, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Champion Surfer Layne Beachley.  It was then up to the public to vote for the winning blend, around 85,000 Australians ended up voting.

Stephen Twining

A high tea at the Observatory Hotel was the perfect setting to announce the winning blend, and Stephen Twining, 10th generation Twining Ambassador was in Australia to make that announcement.  It was for this reason I found myself sitting down for a friendly tête â tête with Stephen over a cup of Russian Caravan before the event.  The drawing room of The Observatory Hotel is absolutely stunning, very much the parlour for having tea. 

Stephen is the perfect example of an immaculately groomed English gentleman, with a manicure that puts my fingernails to shame.  Actually the manicure makes perfect sense, I am sure that every time he picks up a cup of tea people would be focusing on his hands. Read more →

New Mad Mex on George St Sydney & VIP Party

08 Sep
September 8, 2011

The 12th and newest restaurant in the Mad Mex franchise opens today.  A great location on George Street opposite Central Station in Sydney.  It should prove to be very popular with the local backpackers, UTS and Sydney TAFE students.

When I received the invitation a few weeks ago to attend the VIP opening party, it was pretty much a no brainer on us going.  Josh was keen and eager, especially after his victory over the 1Kg Mad Mex burrito challenge a few months ago. Read more →

The Apprentice – Weird Food Dinner

06 Sep
September 6, 2011

I think I generally have a pretty awes­­ome food radar.  I generally have my finger on the pulse and know what is going on around town.

Hmmm, *cough cough*, radar went down……….  Thanks to the Globetrotter, or actually a work colleague of the Globetrotter’s,  I found myself at the Weird Food Dinner held at The Apprentice.  A special dinner held as part of the Ultimo Science Festival.

Not heard of The Apprentice?  Firstly, no, you haven’t missed an important piece of foodie news.  Donald Trump has not started up a restaurant in Sydney manned by those that were fired from his TV shows.  The Apprentice is a licensed training restaurant for people studying Commercial Cookery and the Food and Beverage Certificates at Sydney Institute (TAFE). Read more →

Quay – Harbour Bridge, Opera House & Snow Eggs

30 Aug
August 30, 2011

Birthdays, aren’t they wonderful things?  An excuse to go out and eat, and if it is your birthday you get to pick.  There are only two days that separate Josh’s and my birthdays.  For the past 18 years my birthday has generally been consumed with kids parties etc, as he had the big celebratory 18th last year.  This year I had a plan, and my foodie son willingly agreed.  An adult family lunch at Quay to celebrate both our birthdays.

The last time I visited Quay would have been 20 – 25 years ago.  Not even sure if it was called Quay back then, but I do know that renowned Chef Peter Gilmore wasn’t behind the pass.  The food was good back then, but not the standard it is today.

The present day Quay ranks number 26 on the S Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s list, and is the highest ranked Australian restaurant in the world.  Peter has been behind the helm as Executive Chef since August 2001.  It’s located in prime position overlooking two of Sydney’s icons, The Sydney Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Read more →

The Snag Stand “haute dogs” gimme your sausage!

26 Aug
August 26, 2011

Westfield Level 5 food court really has a massive foodie hype about it.  Not working in the city, I must admit, I have not spent a great deal of time there.  So when occasion has called for me to venture in to the big smoke to do some shopping I have started to stick my head in and see what’s what.

I was doing a pre Japan shop to purchase some goodies to take over as presents and hunger struck.  The Snag Stand was on my foodie radar and the perfect reason to venture to level 5.

Decisions decisions, what to have?  Their range is quite extensive.  Who would of thought that choosing a sausage on a bun would be so difficult.  Would I have the Wagyu beef with butter & garlic mash, herbed gravy topped with sautéed onions ($10.90)?  Maybe pork & fennel Italian, freshly grilled with sautéed tri colour capsicum, sautéed onions & balsamic glaze on a toasted brioche roll ($9.90)?  The Backyarder sounded interesting, a classic Aussie beef & tomato sausage on a rustic roll with creamy coleslaw, Coopers Ale BBQ sauce & cheddar cheese ($8.90)? Or the chicken & rocket, which sounded on the healthier side, served on a soft poppy seed roll with rocket pesto aioli, fresh tomatoes & shaved parmesan ($9.90)? Read more →

Kam Fook Seafood – Bondi Junction

24 Aug
August 24, 2011

Ravenous after a post work movie at Bondi Junction Ms Lily and I decided Chinese was in order.  Kam Fook is located level 6 of Westfield Bondi Junction, just one escalator trip down from the cinemas.  Pretty obvious choice, don’t you think?

The restaurant was quite vacant when we arrived, it was late for dinner, so a non packed restaurant was to be expected.  Kam Fook is roomy, light and airy with its high ceilings and wall of windows.  Spacious with plenty of room between the heavy wooden handmade Chinese tables and chairs.  Dark wood, a few hand carved wooden screens and white linen set the scene.

So many dishes grabbed our attention on the menu, but as there was only the two of us, the decisions were hard.  Who am I kidding I am the biggest procrastinator when it comes to ordering, some would say painfully so.

The decision is made to order three mains to share, and we figure that will be stretching what our stomachs can accommodate. Read more →

Nishiki Markets – Lego Lollies & Whale Meat

22 Aug
August 22, 2011


It would be unusual for me to travel and not investigate what a city has to offer food wise.  What makes that town culinarily unique.  Be it a type of food, a special restaurant or the local food markets.  Kyoto is actually renowned for its sake and tofu.  The locals say their tofu and sake is exceptionally good due to the local water.  I will admit that I sampled lots of sake, but sadly didn’t have a chance to chow down on tofu.

When I knew I was going to spend a few days in Kyoto, beside exploring as many heritage listed temples as I could, Nishiki Ichiba was on my agenda.

With only a few days in Kyoto, which would also include a trip to Nara as well as a visit to Osaka, our time was pretty well mapped out.  It turns out that Nishiki Food Markets are the first place the agenda after arriving that afternoon from Tokyo via shinkansen.

Nishiki Markets (Ichiba) is known as Kyoto’s Kitchen, and when you visit it is easy to see why.  Unlike the massive sprawling Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Nishiki is a lot smaller.  The 400 meter long, five meter wide, covered, pedestrian only road runs east-west from Teramachi Street to Takakura Street.  There are about 130 shops and stalls that run down both sides of the road.  I find the markets a lot more friendlier and personable than Tsukiji.

It really is a culinary delight walking amongst the stores and stalls.  You will find all sorts of goodies; pickles, Japanese sweets, dried food, sushi, fresh seafood, vegetables, flowers, sake, rice as well as knives, ceramics and other cookware.  What I love about Nishiki is there is a nice assortment of food that is designed to be bought and eaten as you walk around.  There are lots of samples to be tried as well.  The merchants are friendly and encourage you to try what they have on offer.  Almost everything that you will find at Nishiki is locally produced or procured.

The markets have a very long history .  The first store was set up by a fishmonger around 1311.  During the Edo period (16th century), Nishiki became a true fish market with several wholesale fish stores opening.  Later on the market made the move from wholesale to retail and stores selling items other than seafood opened.  Many of the stores that you see have been there for several generations.

Come for a little walk with me via my photos.  I have only put a few up on Belly Rumbles, to have a look at all of them please pop by my flickr profile.

 Sashimi on a stick, perfect on the go snack.  A selection of tuna, scallop and salmon, marinated in various flavours.

I use to think that we had a great variety of rices in Australia, it becomes very apparent very quickly that we have nothing on the Japanese.

 Various seafood including whale.  What part of the whale I am not quite sure.

More seafood and whale meat, this is known as whale bacon.

 Various fried goodies.

Broad bean, green pea and miso biscuits.  You try the samples and then you just have to buy some, I did.

Katsuobushi (dried bonito) which is then finely shaved to make bonito flakes.

Lego lollies

Shirauo (Japanese anchovy) which have been dried, mainly caught in the Kyushu and Kanto area.

Shirauo with walnuts.  We bought some of these to have with a beer back at the bar.  Mean nasty bar person told us to put them away, not allowed to bring in food.  They were absolutely delicious, soy and sweet flavour, quite sticky.

Dried prawns with chilli.  One or two are nice but they get a bit much after a few.

Dried scallops, ready to eat, got to love their snack food.

Little marinated octopi.  Their heads are stuffed with a quail egg.

Gorgeous presentation of their arrowroot cake.

Various pickles.

Fresh edamame.

You can find me on flickrhere.    

Sara xxx


The Salt Book with a side of Eaton Mess

19 Aug
August 19, 2011

The Salt Book, what a fascinating read.  The book covers every aspect of salt you could imagine.  How to salt, when to salt, which salt, why salt, salt trends, salt facts, salt recipes, salt techniques, chefs on salt, salt at the table.  It goes through explanations of types of salts ie, pink salt, fleur de sel, smoked salt.  It even explains how you can make your own salt.

No stone left unturned when it comes to the subject of salt.  The pictures throughout the book are gorgeous as well.  It is much more than a recipe book, a true education in salt.  Authors Fritz Gubler & David Glynn with Dr Russell Keast, have come up with the where, why and how guide to salt.

So many interesting recipes caught my attention, but where to start?  With strawberries as luscious and tasty as they were and passionfruit in abundance, I decide to try the meringue recipe and whip up an Eaton mess.

2.5 from 2 reviews
Due to using brown sugar in the recipe these meringues turn out a little darker than usual, with a nice chewy centre.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • fine sea salt
  1. Heat the oven to 120?C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Sift the brown sugar into a bowl with a good pinch of sea salt. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then add the caster sugar in three equal portions, beating until the whites are glossy and stiff. White still beating, gently sift the brown sugar from the bowl on to the egg whites, ceasing as soon as it is incorporated.
  2. Use a tablespoon to place dollops of meringue on the baking tray, leaving plenty of space between.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes then turn off the oven and, leaving the door slightly ajar, let the meringues cool before removing.

To make Eaton mess is very easy.  Just make the meringues as above.  Once they have cooled and you are ready for dessert, break up your meringue, add strawberries and passionfruit pulp.  Mix through some cream and bingo, Eaton mess.

There are a few recipes that I want to try in the book.  A while back I bought myself a Himalayan salt block which I have been itching to try.  There are two great recipes in the book that use a salt block, Scallops with vanilla salt and scallop carpaccio.  Did you know that beside heating a salt block you can also freeze it giving great results.

If you would like to purchase your own copy it is available from Arbon Publishing.

Sara xxx

Belly Rumbles received a copy of The Salt Book, with much thanks, from Felicity of Arbon Publishing.